Jump to navigation

Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - 3:30pm

What is Sue and Settle?

"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process.  The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties.  These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.

As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups.  These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.

Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website

4/7/2016 CWA, Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Allegation EPA failed to fulfill mandatory duty to approve or disapprove Virginia's 2014 303(d) list.
4/6/2016 CAA, Citizens for Clean Air and the Sierra Club
Failure to issue a full or partial approval or a disapproval of the State of Alaska’s state implementation plan addressing the Fairbanks North Star Borough 24-hour fine particulate matter non-attainment area.
3/24/2016 CAA, Sierra Club
Amended NOI for the failure to promulgate a FIP within two years of partially disapproving Louisiana's June 13, 2008 Regional Haze SIP.
3/1/2016 CWA, Puyallup Tribe of Indians
NOI regarding alleged mandatory duty to promulgate WQS in Washington State.
2/18/2016 CAA, Bill Green
Failure to issue a part 71 permit in response to EPA’s order granting in part a petition to object to the Hanford permit and the state’s failure to respond to that order.
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html

What is New in Sue and Settle?

    March 2016

    See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive

    What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?

    Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases

    Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.

      Stay updated by following us on Twitter!  For questions or comments, please contact us here.